I suppose I never explicitly stated whether this would be a Warcraft-specific blog or not. I’m likely to blog about many hobbies here – cosplay, dolls, gaming, etc. Warcraft may be a large portion of the content, but it won’t account for 100%. I’ll have to start tagging things so that people can read only what they actually care about.
Now, on to the subject of this week’s post: cosplay.
I attended my first anime convention in 2008, and although my friends assured me that going in costume was not required or expected, I threw together what I considered to be my first ‘official’ cosplay (I could count a few Halloween costumes as unofficial cosplays because even though I didn’t know what cosplay was at the time, I’m pretty sure that dressing as a specific book character counts) with bits and pieces that I’d scavenged from Goodwill and other local resale shops. Maybe one or two people at the convention even recognized the character I’d chosen, but that didn’t matter to me. I was awed by the level of involvement and effort that some people poured into their costumes. By the time the three-day con was over, I had a whole list of characters I wanted to cosplay, techniques I wanted to learn, and a new obsession was born.
For the next few years, I was an avid cosplayer. I did two or three new costumes per year and became involved with a semi-professional photography group that took and sold cosplay photos at conventions. I formed close friendships with a group of people who also cosplayed (not without our bits of drama, of course) and came to truly love the portion of the hobby dedicated to learning new and unique ways to simulate impossible outfits with real-life materials. I learned how to make armor out of craft foam and fiberglass (Worbla was still very difficult to get in the US). I learned how to cut and style wigs. I sewed with satin, leather, pleather, spandex, and so many blends I couldn’t possibly name them all. I ran my cheap $60 Singer starter sewing machine into the ground and purchased a beastly Husqvarna Viking that can probably stitch through aluminum (I haven’t tested this theory and see no reason to tempt fate, but you get the point).
Then, as mentioned in a previous post, my attention shifted. I drifted away from cosplaying. I still attended conventions but my costumes weren’t nearly as elaborate or time-intensive. I grew distant from my core group of cosplaying friends – partly due to my partner at the time not getting along well with any of them. After two or three years, I had fallen out of the cosplay scene entirely. When I moved across the country and had no one to look forward to attending conventions with, I thought it might be time to give it up altogether. It didn’t help that though my partner offered to attend with me, they also began pressuring me to create a rather difficult costume for them. Combined with my downward spiral of clinical depression, cosplay became something I dreaded. I would find anything else to do, just to avoid having to work on costumes.
A lot happened between that time and now. I moved back to where my friends were within driving distance and reestablished contact with them. Last year I went back to the same conventions I had been going to for so long, and it was as much like coming home as moving had been. I remembered why I had fallen in love with the cosplay scene. I didn’t dress up in 2015, but I did take my DSLR and photograph some amazing costumes and the people who made and wore them. Which brings me to where I am now.
Some days it’s still hard. I’ve put on a few pounds since I first started cosplaying, and it’s difficult to flaunt a costume if you don’t feel confident and self-assured. But last year, I purchased fabric for a costume that never got made, and this past week I began working seriously on completing it. I can’t convey how right it feels to be sitting at my sewing machine, or bending over pattern pieces trying to decide where to deviate from the instructions to get the results I want.
It’s important to do things that you love. And if you’re ever with someone who makes you feel like you shouldn’t be enjoying your hobbies (provided they aren’t self-destructive ones or expensive beyond your means), you need to have a serious talk about why they want you to give up something you love. I think as gamers, we sometimes expect to get into relationships with people who want us to give up gaming. But the same goes for other hobbies – cosplay, doll collecting, roleplaying, whatever floats your nerdy little boat. Fight for the things you love doing. Without hobbies, without the things we love to do, we’re nothing more than mindless drones. Wake up, go to work, go home, sleep. Rinse and repeat. Find something that makes you happy and enjoy it.
It seems like common sense, typing it out like that. But if you could have seen me two years ago, you’d know what a huge difference it makes to have even a few small points of happiness to hold onto. Hobbies are healthy. They make life worth living.